As I said yesterday, I am posting some bits of the book I have been working on for you to have a look at .
This is the first chapter that describes the process of coming up with the Kingdom Cells.
Remember it is a work in progress but I would love your feedback.
Discovering the life
For most of my life I have expected I would end up in some form of leadership. I wanted to be a leader.
I have met a number of people like me who wanted to be leaders, and increasingly I think they are dangerous.
I think I was, and can be, dangerous.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
He who loves community, destroys community; he who loves the bretheren, builds community.
Bonhoeffer is pointing out that the person who loves the idea of community will never be a community builder, because communities are made up of people and people are much more than any idea you might have. The only way to build community is to love people, not love community.
I have come to see that Bonhoeffer’s principle can be translated to relate to leadership:
He who loves leadership, is full of himself and dangerous; he who has committed his life to something bigger than himself, and is willing to love people is a leader.
As I sat on an Air Canada flight to Vancouver at the end of 2009, I turned over and over in my head the dilemma that I faced.
I was preparing to speak to our fledgling leadership team who were gearing up to lead Christians into mission for the 2010 Winter Games and too often we had been involved in events that left very little long term results.
I was also adjusting to the idea that I and three others were now leading the Fusion movement following my Father’s retirement.
Dad started Fusion as a teenager and grew up with the organisation
Fusion had only ever had one leader and now four of us were meant to find a way to address the vacuum he left.
Dad would often tell the story of his call to ministry.
He was committed to reaching other young people like him with the life he had discovered through Jesus. Over the course of one particular week he prayed. In his prayer he imagined his life as one big cheque which he signed, inviting God to fill in the amount.
Every day he prayed that prayer, he felt more of him praying it, until after seven days he had what some people would call a charismatic experience, where he reports it was like the top of his head blew off and he was communicating directly with God.
He took that experience as God taking him up on the offer of his life, and since that point on of the things that has distinguished my Dad’s ministry has been his absolute commitment, sometimes to his own detriment.
My Dad was absolutely committed to a cause beyond himself, and he loved people, which is why Fusion grew to become an international movement under his guidance.
As I prepared myself for the meeting in Canada it became increasingly clear that I needed to find my bearings.
If I was meant to be in leadership then it was probably a good idea to work out where I was heading, so the people who were meant to be following would have at least a fighting chance.
I never had an experience like my dad spoke about.
I didn’t have a burning passion to reach teenagers for Christ.
Sure I cared about them, but I cared about a lot of things.
As I sat on that plane, I was really wrestling with the question of what I was committed to.
Five years earlier I had been preparing to move with my family to Western Australia. We were very excited about the change.
I had been leading the Fusion team in Tasmania for a number of years, and had been in the state for well over a decade. I came to the Apple Isle as an idealistic and naïve 20 year old and was leaving at the age of 34 having learned a great deal, loving the place and the people I had worked with, but possibly a little bit burned out.
The role in W.A. was mostly teaching and training which I love, and I was not going to have anyone directly accountable to me, which sounded like heaven.
I still remember the meeting with my Father when he invited me to move to Victoria, to take up the role of State Director instead of going to Western Australia.
I felt sick.
As I went home and spoke to my wife, Leeanne, we both knew that Victoria was the right option, and as we prayed and talked, that conviction only got stronger.
The challenge I faced going in to Victoria was very similar (though on a smaller scale) to the challenge I faced as I sat on that Air Canada flight five years later.
What would I be working on? What would I be committed to??
Fusion’s work in Victoria had imploded and we had lost all of our leaders from that state in the 12 months leading up to my arrival.
I prayed and wrestled with God about where to start.
As I reached for a way to make sense of the job, I knew there were some things I could say with integrity:
– Fusion is not always at its best, but when it is it is remarkable.
– When we are at our best we are loving Jesus.
– When we are at our best we are deeply connected to the communities we are in and are actively working to serve them.
– When we are at our best we build a sense of community from the core of our teams.
– When we are at our best we are part of a big dream of seeing the whole world transformed as part of a national and international movement.
So as I put it all together I came up with a sentence that I just said over and over again:
When Fusion is at its best we love our communities, love each other and are part of a National and International fellowship because we love Jesus.
It wasn’t particularly poetic, or even very clever, but it was a picture of what we were meant to be that I believed deeply in and gave me some bearings as I went into Victoria.
I’m sure the Victorian team got sick of me saying that one sentence, but it not only gave me my bearings, it gave us our bearings, and the work in Victoria grew significantly in the next five years.
As I wrestled with what I could speak with integrity about to the Canadians, I read through old Fusion plans and publications and I started to see a pattern emerge.
I had been reading a few different books on Church history and teaching about different moments when the Christian church exploded, as I thought about those heroes of the past, the pattern came more sharply into focus.
As I reflected on my own experience in ministry with Fusion, I started to see a deep congruence between the things that brought me alive, and the things that brought the church to life over the last 2000 years.
I started to scribble a diagram on my legal pad.
While the circles and lines were not neat and tidy, the truth they captured was both extremely simple and extremely powerful.
I came to a point where I realised what I was writing and drawing was no longer just representing the story of one organisation, but really the Christian church, when it is at its best.
I also started to realise that what I had captured was not so much a vision or a plan but a life, or more accurately a description of the factors that contribute to that life.
I gave the diagram the title Kingdom D.N.A. but after some reflection I realised that the diagram captured not just the building blocks of life but a form of life. I now call the insight represented by the diagram, a Kingdom Cell.
Cells are the fundamental units of life. Whether they be unicellular or multicellular life forms, all living organisms are composed of and depend on cells to function normally. I am hoping to show you that the organism called the Christian Church also needs cells, and in particular, Kingdom Cells to function normally.
Bono, in the song Acrobat,sings
“I’d join the movement if there was one I could believe in”.
Those words have always resonated for me, and as I began to discover this life, I found myself realising that when I am at my best I am actually part of a movement that has been changing the world for over 2000 years.
The Kingdom Cell diagram is not some big new discovery. It is simply a way of describing what God has been doing all these years, and a way to diagnose the problem when the life starts to fade.
Up front I want to acknowledge that there really is only one life that Transforms the world, and that is Jesus Christ.
While I will address this much more fully in the rest of the book, it is important to understand that Kingdom Cells are an outworking of the life of Jesus and describes the factors He seems to use throughout the history of the church to bring about transformation.
Naming the ingredients of a Kingdom Cell has been a helpful tool on my quest to find my bearings in leadership a Christian Mission organisation.
It has also been helpful personally for me to wrestle with the question of what my life is about and face the parts of me that sabotage the Kingdom.
Over the next chapters I will unfold the Kingdom Cell diagram, each part of which is essential if we are to live the Life that changes the world.